Living on a council estate in the east end of London, we are quite used to seeing wrong doing. It is fair to say, the police know this estate well. They know some of our residents very well. One or two have spent a considerable number of periods as guests in Her Majesty’s prisons.
Theft of neighbour’s possessions was common place and occasionally stupid vandalism leaves me bewildered with its stupidity. Don’t misunderstand, these ‘bad apples’ are containable and not the febrile threat they were when we took two particular residents to Court. They were both evicted. At the source of both cases lay the misuse of drugs. In the first case, Mr X was inviting hoards of teenagers to his flat at very odd hours. These were mostly teenage boys but often many girls were frequenting his flat at all hours and creating noise and nuisance with their loud music, anti-social behaviour and graffiti. Twice I warned Mr X that he was putting his tenancy in danger by encouraging these teenagers to his flat. Twice he ignored my warnings.
Things came to a head when another resident heard the boys boasting about how they proposed to deal with me. Even I was shocked to learn that they intended to put a petrol soaked rag through my letter box. Needless to say the police were made aware, and a particular sergeant personally got a warrant and raided the flat to get evidence against the tenant. Meanwhile I removed the letter box to my front door and sealed the inner opening with some very stout plywood. When granting the ‘Possession Order’ Mr X was given fourteen days to leave with his belongings. He and his younger friends used the time to completely wreck his flat. Cupboards torn from walls, kitchen windows smashed. More surprisingly was the decor in his flat. I’ve no idea what he and his friends were on but all the ceilings were painted a pale blue, with white looking puffy clouds. However, down the walls the colours got darker and darker until at floor level (and on the floor) were deep red and black colours. We guessed it was all supposed to mean – Heaven above, with the deeper paint gradients representing the slow decent into hell. Weird or what?
The other one, (Mr Y) we evicted was a much younger man. He had a harem of the young single mothers from the estate. Again he was supplying ‘weed’ and other drugs. Which I could have ignored. One morning a detective approached me to say the police were interested in learning about Mr Y’s activities! I told the detective he was into martial arts and body building. I also suspected drug dealing. He was an all round nasty piece of work. Ironically, while we were having that conversation, another resident came to complain that she had water coming through her ceiling from above her flat. I went with her and saw it was more than a drip. As Mr Y lived directly above her I asked the officer to accompany me. On getting no response from knocking on his door, I decided that I should break-in. Our policy was we could only force an entry if a Council Offer, or a policeman was present. Luckily the detective was with me and I had little difficulty in forcing the front door lock. While the detective rummaged in cupboards and crevices I looked for a leak. In the toilet I could hear water running down the walls behind the false wall and so the leak wasn’t from Mr Y’s flat. The detective, said, “Fine, I’ve seen enough” as he accompanied me to two more flats above. (I eventually found a split hose to a washing machine.)
I didn’t think much more about the incident, until a week or so later, when we were celebrating the Christmas break. The phone rang. I answered, and Mr. Y said, “You’re a grass and I’m going to get you, not today or maybe next week, but keep looking over your shoulder, as one day I’ll be there”! I replied that he was a prat and I had done nothing wrong. I put the phone down.
On Christmas Day, I answered a knock on my front door and sure enough there was Mr Y. I immediately stepped outside into our lift lobby area and confronted him saying, “Well what do you want?” He punched me, I punched back and soon it was a brawl. The only problem was that he was thirty-six and I was sixty. I didn’t stand much chance and the Court later on found in my favour. So a second thug was evicted.